By Caroline Smith and the Mind Tools Team
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The Hogan Development Survey

Identifying Career Derailing Behaviors

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Relationships at work are critical to your success. Whether you're a leader trying to build a team where people work together successfully, or a team member trying to produce great results, your accomplishments often depend on your ability to get along with others.

This ability to get along is rooted in our interpersonal behavior. Some behaviors help us get along with people. Others can damage relationships and undermine our careers, without us being aware of them.

The harmful behaviors often appear when we're under stress, bored, tired, or distracted. So, something that's a perfectly acceptable – even creditable – personality trait under normal circumstances can become negative when we're in a pressure situation. And harmful behaviors and responses that we normally control can surface at times of stress.

For instance, a person who is naturally cautious can be an asset to the team when there's time to consider options carefully before making a decision. Under pressure, however, that cautiousness can quickly turn into indecisiveness, delaying decisions unnecessarily. This can cause problems to escalate that could otherwise be "nipped in the bud".

So how can we uncover and neutralize the negative, harmful elements of our personality? The Hogan Development Survey (HDS) was designed to do this. It helps people understand how their behaviors and preferences can potentially damage their workplace relationships with colleagues, customers, and team members. Hopefully this self-awareness can then lead to improvement and change.

Note 1:

The HDS was developed by Drs Robert and Joyce Hogan, who were both professors of psychology at the University of Tulsa in the United States. The current version was published in 1997.

Note 2:

The Hogans refer to potentially harmful characteristics as the "Dark Side" of our personality. You will sometimes, therefore, see this tool referred to as "The Dark Side Survey".

Survey Specifics

The HDS is designed to predict possible barriers to career success. The survey is easy to take and to administer, and consists of 168 true/false questions.

A useful and unique feature of the HDS is that it presents the results from the perspective of your colleagues. So, if you're like the cautious person we mentioned earlier, your results would identify what it means to be "cautious" (careful, conservative, afraid of mistakes) and how others would describe you (a slow decision maker, and resistant to change). While you may believe that being cautious is a good coping strategy in high-pressure situations, your co-workers might see it very differently.

The HDS assessment helps people see the positive and negative sides of their preferred behavior and style. This is why it's particularly useful for coaches who work with people who don't understand why their careers haven't progressed (despite, for example, having great technical skills). It's also a helpful and commonly used tool in recruitment and career planning, as it allows managers to predict how people will behave when stressed, and coach and train people to avoid negative behaviors.

Hogan's 11 Personality Dimensions

The Hogan Development Survey measures 11 different personality dimensions that can affect your success when working with others in a team situation. If you score at or above the 70th percentile on any of these dimensions, then you may be at risk of displaying the negative characteristics associated with that dimension.

We'll discuss each dimension, and look at how to interpret the risk score.

Cluster A – People with high scores across these five areas try to avoid risk, and can tend to look at things from a negative point of view. They anticipate the worst, and may avoid action and otherwise slow down the decision-making process. Cluster A dimensions are shown below...

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